Optimizing the Ecommerce Experience for Holiday Shoppers

Nicholas Fuller
C2 Team Member Alumni

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the rush of holiday shopping season are here for online retailers. And, unlike your customers, you don’t have budget burning a hole in your marketing and e-commerce pocket.

Considering common e-commerce functionality and best practices, these eight tips can help you ensure a positive customer experience on a mid-market budget that has your users coming back for more.

1.    Promote Shipping Deals

Help out all those would-be procrastinators and last-second shoppers by offering special shipping deals. Amazon’s offer for free, one-day shipping for last-minute Halloween costumes caught our eye in particular. This content helps instill a sense of urgency (or, serves as a friendly reminder to get moving) while adding value for your users.

2.    Clearly Define Shipping Arival Date

Users are less interested in how fast you can deliver, and more interested in knowing when, exactly, they can expect to receive their order. As more and more commerce gets transacted online, especially during the holidays, customers want to know they can receive their order without falling victim to shipping delays.

3.    Reduce Friction in the Checkout Process

On average, the typical checkout process requires 14.88 fields, which is twice as many as necessary. Eliminate any unnecessary steps and fields for completing an order to cut down on those dreaded abandoned carts. Meanwhile, 61% of the top e-commerce websites require what users consider as “unnecessary” information. If you require information from a user, make the reason self-evident or clearly explain why the information is necessary.

4.    Use Suggestive Search

Think of site search as an extension of your navigation. When users can’t find the information they need through navigation, search is their next best bet. The thing is, though, customers have notoriously poor site search habits and behavior. Using suggestive search better anticipates this poor behavior by returning suggested queries after a matter of keystrokes. Search technology has advanced to the point, too, that it can generate landing pages and product pages that go above and beyond a standard SERP page.

5.    Conduct User Testing on Product and Checkout Pages

User testing or usability assessments in advance of peak shopping season should be baked into a marketing or e-commerce budget every year. With the right understanding of your audiences and their needs, this isn’t difficult to execute internally, either (a third party provides better objectivity and subject matter expertise, however). Spin up some of the most common tasks or scenarios for your users (such as checking out, or finding a product) and put yourself in the user’s shoes. This testing can reveal additional usability issues that hadn’t been previously identified or considered.

6.    Appeal on a Personal Level

Personalization is a wide and powerful tactic that can substantially impact conversion rates.  Using demographic or behavioral information, marketers can better segment and personalize everything from emails to product recommendations, ads and promotions, and on-page content and functionality during the shopping experience.

7.    Get Creative in Fighting Cart Abandonment

High cart abandonment can speak to deeper usability issues. In the short term, show users who have already abandoned through mobile, email, or other channels that even though they are gone, they are not forgotten. Unique messaging to users who have abandoned their cart, combined with special shipping or promotional deals, is one way to bring those would-be buyers back from the brink.

8.    Test Site Performance

Every year, more and more shoppers abandon the crowds and chaotic shopping malls for the comfort of their own homes and devices. Load testing around peak volume can help ensure your online store can support the virtual foot traffic, while additional testing, such as page load speed, can help ensure the site's performance is in line with customer expectations. This includes mobile testing, too. Google research shows that the average load speed for a mobile landing page is 22 seconds, and that 53% of mobile visitors will abandon a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load.

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